The first somewhat proper blog post in a while. Stayed up late last night typing it while watching football (Arsenal aside, the English clubs are choking in Europe in case you’re wondering). Why I didn’t post it last night? Due to my paranoid and rather pessimistic nature; I was waiting to get the final approval/confirmation from the organizers before going ahead and publicly announcing that I’ve been chosen as one of the photographers at #tatw400. TATW is Trance Around The World by Above & Beyond, if you are into trance, this is a big deal. To put it in perspective, it is akin to Champions League final in football to trance lovers. Here are some random thoughts and reflections from a person whom is sometimes referred to as a “trance snob”
Few years ago, I had no clue what trance was. Heck, I did not even know what EDM was for that matter. I was so naïve that when I randomly bought my first ever trance compilation I thought Tiesto’s name was a typo on the album cover and that it should have been “Testo”. A guy whom I used to chat with online about football stuff (I think he was a Blackburn fan. Mature and knowledgeable about the game) pointed out to me that it wasn’t a typo. Bad assumptions aside, it was an OK compilation. Back then in 2005 I thought it was the best thing ever (The very first track was on repeat for some time. It was Tiesto’s remix of Adagio of Strings).
If memory serves me right, I went to Lebanon that summer (2005) with the family. It could have been in 2004, not sure, I guess I’m growing old but anyhow; I spent some time hanging out with a couple of older guys who were more ‘established clubbers’ than I was. They flew to Lebanon for a vacation of tanning, sightseeing, clubbing and boozing. They saw a fella that goes by the name of Paul Van Dyk the night I landed there and they kept on bragging about it for the next few days. Problem is, I had never heard of ‘PVD’ before that trip (I ended up meeting him and shooting at one of his gigs in Dubai in 2009). In that trip, there was a very trancy track that was played repeatedly on the radio, was a rather melodic one with some almost unfathomable vocals. That track turned out to be Andy Moor’s awesome collaboration with Above & Beyond titled “Air for Life”.
Why am I being so nostalgic? Beats me. All I know is that since then, I have been discovering electronic music in general and the infamous subgenre called trance. When I first started listening to trance it came as a surprise to many of my friends, some of whom decided to call it “khabee6 6anajer”, which can be translated as the noise created if you bang kitchen utensils against each other. In 2006 I found out about TATW aka. Trance Around The World by coincidence. This was Above & Beyond’s weekly radio show. I wasn’t into radio shows back then, mainly due to the fact that I was not very aware of how to get them or where to listen to them. TATW used to be played every weekend on a local radio station here in Dubai, albeit belatedly (They used to play the previous week’s episode). That was when I started to distinguish better between the genres of electronic music and started developing a strong liking for Above & Beyond and their record label Anjunabeats. I started making it a habit to tune in every weekend, sometimes even cruising for the whole length of the show (Fuel was cheaper back then, and I wasn’t paying out of my own pocket yet). Some of the first few tracks I heard on the show in the first few episodes that I still recall to this day were Amsterdam, Destination, Needs to Feel, Reflect and Won’t Sleep Tonight.
I got to see the ‘Anjunaboys’ on their first visit to these shores a couple of months later, managed to sneak in after a friend of a friend whom I barely knew bribed one of the bouncer to let me in. That night is going to be ingrained in my mind (That will be helped by the videos I have which I posted on my YouTube channel). I was fortunate to see Tony and Jono a few times after that (Never had the pleasure of seeing Paavo, but that is set to change very, very soon).
You can obviously tell that I am a big fan of Above & Beyond and trance in general, I still have some reservations on them. The live sets of recent years can be a bit too mellow and not ‘trancy’ so to speak but Above & Beyond are more musical act, majestic performers. So many memories from around the world linger with very track, remix, bootleg and/or mashup they play.
I’ve been hoping for an event of a global scale to take place somewhere in the Middle East, but I didn’t expect it to happen so soon. Thanks to Above & Beyond for choosing Beirut as the host city for an event that can safely be described as a career-defining moment and a massive milestone for them. Keeping a show going for 8 years is no mean feat. Expect a lot of unforgettable moments. The last TATW milestone event was held just under a year ago in LA, the #tatw350 hashtag became the top trending topic worldwide and had millions of listeners tuned live. Omography, my photography alias will be one of the photographers at TATW 400! I will also be celebrating another milestone myself in my life. That is other than the fact that this will be the biggest trance event I’ve been to in my life (Probably the biggest event of any kind that I attend.
Being able to not only attend the event, but document it via my images and to combine two of my biggest passions (Trance and photography) was definitely above & beyond my wildest dreams. Thanks to everyone who has given me tips, guided me, allowed me to shoot at their club/propery/event/whatever, critiqued my work or simply even posed for me and/or let me take their pictures. I wouldn’t be there, mingling and ‘shooting’ some of the biggest names in the dance music scene if it wasn’t for you and your direct or indirect support.
Omar Abu Omar aka. Omography.
A Trance Around The World 400 Photographer.